Hamlet 2

2009-05-15 15:34
 
What it's about:

Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) is an unflappable optimistic failed actor who ekes out a meagre existence as a high school drama teacher. Each year he produces a stage version of a popular Hollywood movie and receives terrible reviews, but on the advice of his fiercest critic he attempts to write and stage his own work – a sequel to Hamlet. Taking plenty of liberties with the plot, including a time travelling Jesus and several racy musical numbers, Dana is barred from putting on the play at school, but with the help of his ragtag drama class, he manages to bring his bizarre vision to life.


What we thought of it:

The marketing for Hamlet 2 screams “from the writer of Team America: World Police”, but if you are expecting some sort of South Park flavour to it, you will be disappointed. It is more of an adult (as in a more sweary) take on School of Rock than anything cooked up by the gloriously offensive Trey Parker and co.

Anyone familiar with British actor Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge, Around the World in 80 Days), will know that he is at his best when playing characters who walk the line between repellent and pathetic, and Dana Marschz fits right in there with some of Coogan’s best creations. A recovering alcoholic teetering on unemployment, trapped in a sham of a marriage, he cuts a miserable figure, but Coogan takes him so far into ludicrous that many of the laughs come from the shock of Dana forcing himself on the unsuspecting real world.

Like School of Rock, there is a class of misfits just waiting to be turned into skilled performers, and this is the downside of Hamlet 2 – it seems a great pity to spoil moments of absurd hilarity like Dana swearing at his pet cat while suffering from writer’s block with the oh-so-familiar charade of underdog kids making good against all odds.

The subplot of Dana’s home life with his heavy drinking wife Brie (Catherine Keener), and their attempts at conceiving a child are far more rewarding and give Coogan the opportunity to milk some truly uncomfortable laughs from scenes - like his improvised song while waiting in line at the fertility clinic.

Hamlet 2 isn’t brilliant, and often trips itself up by verging towards safe conventional comedy when it should be outrageous, but there are certainly many moments that absolutely sparkle. Despite its failings, it is a lot funnier than most of the other comedy on circuit at the moment (I Love You Man, The Promotion, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno), and any movie that gives Steve Coogan the opportunity to truly show the world his comedy talents gets my two thumbs up.


A hopeless high school drama teacher attempts to stage a sequel to Hamlet with hilarious results, while his life falls apart around him.

Uncle 2009/05/18 8:35 AM
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Rock me, Rock me, Rock me Sexy Jesus!
Morgan 2009/05/18 8:35 PM
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Clunky and episodic (thanks to poor editing), with less character development than, say, Paris Hilton after a stint in gaol. Not that it's not amusing at times, but the actual stage production looks like it would have made a better movie. Like the recent "I Love You, Man", it lacks polish. Don't let the art cinema screening fool you.
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